COVID-positive contacts of PH’s first UK variant case now at 14

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2021 11:36 AM | Updated as of Jan 21 2021 03:49 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health on Thursday said another passenger of the flight that a Filipino man, who was later confirmed as the country's 1st case of the new COVID-19 variant, had taken from Dubai to Manila earlier this month has also tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the 14th among his contacts to get infected.

Among those who earlier tested positive where the man's girlfriend and mother. Health officials are still validating the coronavirus variant that the new patients acquired.

The DOH expects to get the genome sequencing results for the contacts this week to see if they also have the new and more transmissible COVID-19 variant, which was first detected in the UK.

Dr. Alethea de Guzman, medical specialist IV of the DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau, said the 14th positive case was confirmed on Wednesday afternoon.

Like the two other passengers announced earlier on Wednesday, the 14th case also tested negative upon arrival in the Philippines and then tested positive after being re-swabbed. 

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire previously explained that those who initially tested negative, including the girlfriend of the so-called "patient zero," might have still been incubating the virus when they arrived in Manila. 

This is why the virus was only detected when they were re-swabbed. The DOH has since recommended to run another test on the 5th day of any traveler entering the Philippines.

De Guzman said that the 3 passengers who tested positive upon re-swab “most likely” were infected while in Dubai since they were seated very far from the so-called index or first case and his girlfriend.

A timeline of the contacts’ exposure to the case, who was only identified as a 29-year-old man from Quezon City, also showed how unlikely it was for his mother to have been infected by him.

De Guzman pointed out that the two have not seen each other for at least 19 days.

“There’s still a few samples that are pending and we’ll give updates on these,” she said of the other contacts with pending test results.

According to her, all of the contacts traced are still in quarantine and are required to stay there for 14 days.

There are still 3 passengers from Emirates flight EK332, which landed in Manila on January 7, who have yet to be traced.

De Guzman said efforts to find them are ongoing. Two are from the National Capital Region and one is from Region 7.

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